by Rob Turbovsky
While I'm on the topic of musical abominations, I've thought of yet another reason why going to concerts has quickly become less fun than a week in a spider hole in Baghdad. Why is it that these people can't just stand there and appreciate what we all overpaid to see in the first place - the music. But, no, for some people, the music isn't enough…no, they can't have a good time unless they manage to ruin the experience for everyone in a three-mile radius. I was fortunate enough to experience this phenomenon at the Vines/Jet/Living End show at the third-rate, trash dump of a venue called the Electric Factory, which, I'm happy to report, despite renovations, still has the acoustics of the inside of a wind tunnel. In a just world, this place would've become a parking lot long ago. But no, there it stands, a bright, shining slap in the face to every concertgoer who ever hoped for a good concert, with bearable sound, at a decent price. Thanks again Clear Channel.
Almost immediately after entering, the stupidity begins. Everybody has already claimed their little two-inch grove of personal space near the stage, but, of course, an endless conga line of pre-pubescent idiots with more piercings than brain cells has to begin their painfully uncomfortable march towards the stage, operating with the mistaken beliefs that the closer they get to the band, the better the band gets. What these underdeveloped misfits fail to realize is that there is a fifteen foot barrier between the front of the crowd and the stage, specifically to prevent these lethally contagious dummies from getting too close to people with actual talent. Thankfully, the stupid have always been blessed with a sense of stubborn diligence, so they just keep pushing.
By the time the road crew is finished setting up Jet's equipment, my once-manageable area of personal space is occupied by what appears to be a family of inbred wookies and an eight-year old Hell's Angel. I, of course, can't breathe because the guy in front of me has boldly refused to shower until the United States stops oppressing citizens abroad. As if that's not bad enough, to the right of me, I have to contend with the barely-dressed twelve year old and her scantily clad forty-five year old mother (who desperately needs to at least triple the amount of clothing she has on) who are sharing a touching mother-daughter moment by chain smoking a carton of Marlboros together. At this point, I figure the evening can't get any worse, but the sad reality of it is that the evening hasn't even begun.
The band gets on stage and immediately the crowd surfing begins. Great. Some total stranger that I don't know, and if I did know I would probably dislike, wants me to hoist her through the crowd and into the arms of concert security, just so she can come within smelling distance of the band. Talk about an exercise in futility - what don't crowd surfers understand? They get up to the front, but then security sends them to the back of the crowd…they're going backwards! The concept of "going backwards," for the crowd surfers out there, does not usually coincide with what we in the literate world call "progress." If you want to be pick-pocketed and anonymously groped by a sea of dangerously unwashed hands and equally dirty minds, go stage dive into a prison riot, but please, don't bother me, I paid thirty dollars in service charges alone on my ticket, just let me watch the show.
Just when I can begin to focus on the music again, the group of circus freaks to the right of me starts their idiotic mosh pit, which resembles something you'd see in a nature film about mentally defective squirrels. What is it about music that could possibly inspire some people to run headfirst into someone else, do a somersault, spin on the floor, and then repeat the whole thing thirty times until they're clinically brain dead (as if they weren't already). What a great mentality! "Hey, the band's on! Let's push each other until we bleed!"
Look, if you're going to a concert, just like any other social event, some etiquette is in order. Standing, clapping, even waving your hands in the air or jumping up and down like a human pogo stick is okay by me. But, if you're going to sing, you better make sure that you're either singing the right words to the right song in the right key, or that your asinine shriek is being drowned out by the band. I realize in the world of teenage concert attendees having fun at the expense of the two thousand other people in the venue is okay. That is a cruel world where self-indulgence is king, where it's great fun to block the view of everyone behind you by standing on someone's shoulders, and where it's okay to wear the shirt of the band to the show they are playing at. Well, that is not something that should continue for concertgoers in their twenties and thirties, I'm not going to stand by and let these people ruin what's left of rock and roll, and neither should you. So, next time you're at a concert and one of these monkeys tries to elbow his way in front of you, stand your ground. Get security involved. Form a human fence with the people around you and trap the dummies in the back of the venue where they will be relegated to licking gum off of the bathroom floor.
I realize that some of this might sound a bit harsh, and the last thing I am is intolerant of difference. I'm not saying that these types of people should stop enjoying music in their own way. But, there needs to be a sense of maturity attached to it. So, if you're one of these moshers or crowd surfers or whatever, I am asking you, on behalf of the ever-decreasing group of people who still go to see a band to actually see the band, please stop going to concerts. If you insist on doing that moronic circle dance, either join the Lollipop Guild or stay at home with your pre-torn jeans and your store-bought rebelliousness and square dance with your babysitter to your mom's old Leif Garrett records. Some of us are trying to enjoy the show.
By the way, The Living End rocked. They're a three-piece band with a dynamic stage presence and a very unique, Brian Setzer-meets-punk rock-on-PCP kind of sound. They easily won the crowd over by the end of their all-too-brief ten-song set. Jet was good despite occasionally performing on autopilot, presumably the result of a demanding tour schedule. They performed most of their album Get Born, opening with the killer track "Cold Hard Bitch" and running through crowd favorites "Look What You're Done" and the ubiquitous "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." They also played a song called "Open The Door" (not on the album) and closed with an Elvis Presley cover of "Alright Mama" (also not on the album). After the show, guitarist Cam Muncey and other members of Jet were very friendly in greeting fans, signing autographs, and posing for pictures. The Vines were intolerably bad, but Jet helped make up for that in advance, as did the Living End, who, without a doubt, stole the show. The "Aussie Invasion Tour," as its called, has a few more stops and might be worth checking out just for them.